November 13, 2002 | By: Laura Skillman

Wet conditions this fall have the state’s farmers lagging behind in their soybean harvest and potentially lowering the state’s winter wheat acres.

“Getting both of them done has been very difficult,” said Curt Judy, University of Kentucky Cooperative Service Agriculture and Natural Resources agent in Todd County.

With the soybean harvest and wheat plantings about 20 percent behind the five year average, James Herbek, UK Extension grains specialist, anticipates that wheat planting will be below what farmers were planning earlier this fall.

Wheat acres have dropped across the state in recent years due to low prices. Initially, acres were expected to rebound some this year because of better prices but delays in planting will likely change that.

Wheat planted after Dec. 1 has a lower yield potential, especially if temperatures are relatively cool, Herbek said.

“This may be one of our lowest wheat acres in a number of years, if little more is planted,” he said.

Judy said farmers in his county are a little further along with their wheat planting than with the soybean harvest. Both are pretty far advanced but a number of acres are still being harvested and planted. He does not expect to see a reduction in wheat production.

Simpson County farmers still have an estimated 40 to 45 percent of the soybeans yet to harvest and are behind in wheat planting by some 30 to 40 percent, said Jeff Watt, Simpson County Extension agent for agriculture and natural sciences.

As a result of this fall’s poor weather conditions, Watt said he anticipates the wheat acreage in his county could drop by some 2,000 to 4,000 acres.

“We are out of the field now,” he noted.

Todd County’s soybean farmers are among the lucky ones this year because timely rains have resulted in good yields.

“My guess is this is the best soybean crop we’ve ever had,” Judy said.

Many others aren’t so lucky.

The late soybean harvest can affect yield and quality, Watt said. Lodging and plants falling down in the field can become a problem. Shattering, when the beans pop out of the pods, can also be a problem. In some instances, low test weights are also being seen.

Some areas are reporting relatively poor soybean quality, which can be attributed, in part, to having to stay in the field. They can gain moisture and, in turn, be subjected to secondary fungus infections, Herbek said.

“There’s a lot of beans still out there,” he said.

The wet conditions could translate into more work for farmers after harvest as equipment leaves ruts in the fields. That will require some fieldwork either later this winter or in the spring to level out those tracks, Herbek said.



James Herbek, (270) 365-7541; Curt Judy, (270) 265-5659; Jeff Watt, (270) 586-4484